MANILA, Philippines — Health authorities in the Philippines have yet to detect a sub-lineage of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which has been seen in other countries, the Department of Health said Monday.
“Until now, we have not yet detected any BA.2 sub-variant here in the country,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with CNN Philippines.
According to Vergeire, the World Health Organization and other experts are still studying the latest version of Omicron, dubbed as BA.2.
“Based on initial findings and based on observing patients who have this kind of sub-variant, there is not much difference with Omicron as to the severity of illness,” she said, adding the WHO has yet to determine if the sub-lineage is a variant of interest or concern.
The sub-variant of the hyper-contagious Omicron has been detected in 40 countries, accounting for a majority of most recent cases in some nations including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, and India.
The UK Health Security Agency designated the BA.2 sub-lineage as a variant under investigation as cases of it were rising. The authority underlined that “there is still uncertainty around the significance of the changes to the viral genome.” — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Agence France-Presse
Follow this page for updates on the new COVID-19 variant, dubbed Omicron and originally detected in South Africa. Photo courtesy of the The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
The Philippines reports the detection of 492 additional cases of the hyper-transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Of the total, 332 are locals, while 160 are returning overseas Filipinos.
This brings the total number of Omicron cases in the country. — Gaea Katreena Cabico
France’s daily reported new coronavirus cases broke a new record on Tuesday with an average of over 300,000 a day in the past week, with the headline figure approaching half a million.
The latest data issued by Public Health France showed that there were 464,769 new cases in the last 24-hour period as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread unabated.
A day earlier, 102,144 people had tested positive for the virus. — AFP
China’s postal service has ordered workers to disinfect international deliveries and urged the public to reduce orders from overseas after authorities claimed mail could be the source of recent coronavirus outbreaks.
China Post on Monday published a statement ordering workers to disinfect the outer packaging of all international mail “as soon as possible” and requiring employees handling foreign letters and packages to receive booster vaccine shots.
The postal service also asked the public to reduce purchases and deliveries from “countries and regions with a high overseas epidemic risk” and said domestic mail should be handled in different areas to prevent cross-contamination. — AFP
Preliminary data from a trial shows AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine increased antibodies against the coronavirus Omicron variant for a booster dose.
The British-Swedish pharmaceutical reports that the response against both Omicron and Delta variants was seen in those who received the booster while initially vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca shot or another mRNA vaccine.
Omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in the Philippines says Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, citing results of the latest genome sequencing on January 3.
The newest “variant of concern” has surpassed the Delta variant, believed to be behind the second wave of the pandemic in March last year.
Omicron is even more transmissible than the Delta variant.
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